First Parish COVID Update
There are encouraging signs as we enter 2021 and start the new year. The on-going rollout of vaccinations and policies being implemented by the new administration are certainly positive signs. Locally, new infection rates are slowly starting to come down from recent all-time highs. While experts forewarn of challenging days ahead in the next few months, we have more hope.
Below is a quick update from the COVID Task Force and The Standing Committee.
Thank you for participating in the survey this past Fall. Approximately 80 people responded. Here is some of what we learned: 75% of us are attending worship services on a weekly basis and another 15% occasionally. 16% of us are feeling very connected, 62% connected and 22% say they are feeling minimally connected. Rev Ellen, Steve, Dolores and our lay volunteers received high praise and appreciation for the Sunday worship services. They have been wonderful!
Respondents also expressed a desire for more opportunities to connect and suggestions for how to do so. The staff and church leadership are offering opportunities for connection outside of worship with the following activities:
- We continue with virtual Coffee Hour after worship, with break-out rooms for small group conversation
- Rev Ellen and Dolores host a Soul Matters Sharing Circle on the last Sunday of each month at 1pm, for reflection and discussion on the month’s worship theme. Participants are welcome to attend only the sessions they wish.
- The Standing Committee is offering “FUNdraising opportunities” including a Trivia Night on January 29th and an online version of our Auction on March 20th.
- The Caring Connection and Pastoral Care Teams are hosting Zoom Cafés on Thursdays.
- Community Table has started up again, prepping and serving meals on the 3rd Saturday of each month.
- Joan Coyne will be leading a book group, starting February 6, on Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Any others ideas? Willing to lead another activity? If so, please contact The Standing Committee.
Worship & Programming will remain remote
The COVID Task Force makes recommendations and decisions about re-opening based on metrics. We continue to monitor and follow guidelines from the CDC, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the UUA as we discern our policies for First Parish.
Though we look forward to gathering in person again, health and safety remain our primary concerns. Based on current data and the recommendations of the UUA, we foresee continuing with remote worship, social hour, and faith formation through the rest of this church year.
We acknowledge this may be disappointing news but we make this decision with care for all our members and the capacity of our volunteers and staff to manage the complicated logistics of running our church safely and effectively during a pandemic. We will continue to assess the situation and discuss with the staff, Worship Committee, and other lay leaders plans and possibilities for the summer and the fall.
We are almost a year into this pandemic and our congregation has stayed engaged, creative, flexible and supportive. We are grateful to all of you for supporting and caring for one another and our First Parish community as a whole.
In faith together, The Standing Committee
The COVID Task Force
The task force is your point of contact for any ideas or questions you might have related to COVID and crisis management at First Parish.
The members of the task force are: Dolores Heredia-Wood, Rev. Ellen Spero, Jess Volk, Gail Burati, Jim Curley, Michelle Hillman, and Tom Coffey.